The IX Games of La Francophonie kick off on July 28 in Kinshasa. The host country, the DRC, will be taking part in all 8 sports disciplines but the preparation of Congolese athletes leaves much to be desired.
In two weeks' time, Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be the center of the French-speaking world. The IX Games of La Francophonie will take place there from July 28 to August 6. As the host country, the DRC has a duty to make a respectable showing in all events, and above all to win medals if it is to make more than just a token appearance. But given the state of preparation of Congolese athletes for these IX Games of La Francophonie, hopes of good results are very slim indeed.
An aborted official preparation program
There was no national preparation program to match the ambitions of a country hosting the Games of La Francophonie. The official program announced on June 9 by Sports Minister François Claude Kabulo Mwana Kabulo never materialized.It included training camps outside the country for six of the eight disciplines selected for these Games of La Francophonie. Soccer and Judo were to travel to Côte d'Ivoire for a month-long preparation camp. Wrestling, cycling, athletics and basketball were also due to hold their preparation camps in Brazzaville. Table tennis and handisport were to remain in Kinshasa. However, Minister Kabulo's announcement was made without specifying a date for the start of preparations. This was not respected.
In view of this situation, the various sports federations involved in these Games of La Francophonie are making do with local resources.And without all the equipment needed for a good training course. They continue to hope for financial assistance from the government, even at the last minute.The federations have all started their preparations a little late. The Fédération congolaise de Luttes associées (FECOLUTTA) only launched its official preparations on June 27.For athletics, after a short training camp in Lusaka, Zambia, and the organization in Kinshasa of the French-speaking Central African Club Championships.The athletes are now preparing on the esplanade of the Palais du peuple, without a real track.
As for the women basketball players, they toil in the open air at the Bandalungwa town hall. The only discipline to have received government support so far is soccer, which benefited from the organization of the Fatshi Cup tournament in Kinshasa. Four Central African countries took part. The Leopards U20 played three matches with real opposition against Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and CAR.
There is still great doubt that the DRC will win many medals at the forthcoming Jeux de la Francophonie. The greatest benefit of these Games for the Congolese will undoubtedly be the sports infrastructures that the country has acquired thanks to these Games to develop its sports sector, which has long suffered from a lack of frameworks for the best practice of the various disciplines.